Hollywood Docket: Brendan Fraser's Alleged Assault; Madonna 'Vogue' Suit; Jay-Z's Problems

A roundup of entertainment and law news including a book about whether music piracy threatens mankind and a law review article about what Jay-Z has to say about probable cause.
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Movie producer Todd Moyer is suing Brendan Fraser over a physical altercation. Moyer is one of the producers on The Legend of William Tell, which was set to star Fraser, and now claims that the "intoxicated" actor began to "physically push, verbally threaten and poke [Moyer] in the chest repeatedly" at a hotel in Indianapolis.

In May, Fraser sued Moyer for allegedly violating the terms of his "pay or play" deal to star in the William Tell film.

In that lawsuit, Fraser alleged that he had passed on other jobs and incurred out-of-pocket expenses to market the film to prospective investors. His written deal purportedly had him set to receive $2.25 million in fixed compensation, 10 percent of which was to be paid as a "hold fee."

Moyer has struck back, saying he was assaulted twice by Fraser. Besides the alleged attack in the Indianapolis hotel, he also claims that Fraser caused a physical altercation during a meeting for the film last January.

"This is a ridiculous and absurd claim by Mr. Moyer," Fraser's lawyer, Marty Singer, tells TMZ. "He's desperately trying to avoid the monies that he guaranteed to pay to Brendan -- more than $2 million -- and has concocted this claim.  He recently just put his company into bankruptcy.  This is just another desperate attempt by him to avoid paying his debt."

VIDEO: Madonna Fights Tears During 'Like a Virgin' Performance

In other entertainment law news:

  • Madonna and Warner Bros. Music have been hit with a lawsuit that contends her 22-year-old song, "Vogue," contains an illegal sample of a 35-year-old song, "Love Break." The plaintiff VMG Salsoul says that Madonna took the horns and strings from that track and made it "deliberately hidden" so as to "avoid detection." Suing for copyright infringement, VMG says that only new technology could confirm the sampling.
  • The federal government appears to be watching Discovery Channel's Weed Wars. Feds are going after a pot shop that was recently featured on the show for allegedly leasing a property for the purposes of storing, distributing, or using marijuana.
  • Something to read this weekend -- Southwestern Law School professor Caleb Mason's phenomenal analysis of Jay-Z's song, "99 Problems." According to the law review article, "In one compact, teachable verse (Verse 2), the song forces us to think about traffic stops, vehicle searches, drug smuggling, probable cause, and racial profiling, and it beautifully tees up my favorite pedagogical heuristic: life lessons for cops and robbers."
  • Yet more reading -- Year Zero, by Rhapsody founder Rob Reid, which according to Entertainment Weekly's book review is about our world on the brink of extinction thanks to music piracy: "Unfortunately for Earth, the hero poised between us and extinction is a not-very-good entertainment lawyer. His name is Nick Carter, and he is alerted to the threat by a pair of conscientious outer-spacians because they mistake him for the guy from Backstreet Boys — not because of his grasp of copyright law."
  • Get psyched for The Hollywood Reporter's list of "Power Lawyers," out next week. Perhaps one of them will use their special talents to save mankind.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com

Twitter: @eriqgardner